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The Effects of Temperature Change and Domestication on the Body Size of Late Pleistocene to Holocene Mammals of Israel

Simon J. M. Davis
Paleobiology
Vol. 7, No. 1 (Winter, 1981), pp. 101-114
Published by: Paleontological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2400644
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Effects of Temperature Change and Domestication on the Body Size of Late Pleistocene to Holocene Mammals of Israel
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Abstract

Size variation among several species of large mammals is examined both throughout a wide geographical range today and within the Late Pleistocene-Holocene archaeo-faunal sequence of Israel. A regression of log dental size on environmental temperature produces similar negative slopes for recent Palaearctic foxes, wolves and boars as well as for Nearctic foxes. These species, and others which also exhibit an inverse correlation between size and temperature today, became dwarfed at the end of the Pleistocene in Israel. Abundant fossil gazelle and fox mensural data indicate that this diminution coincided with the temperature elevation 12,000 yr ago. Both the similarity of regression slopes for the recent material and the temporal coincidence of dwarfing among fossil species, representing different ecologies, strongly implicate temperature as the main body-size determining factor. Changes evidenced in the fossil record for boar, wolf and fox approximate a 15⚬C temperature change (Δ t) based on their respective present-day size-temperature regressions. This Δ t, if taken as an estimate for the eastern Mediterranean, is considerably higher than generally accepted values. An additional size reduction of aurochs, wolf and boar at the end of the Pleistocene or several millenia later is associated with their domestication. It may reflect man's preference for a large "head count" over individual large body size.

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